Senior forward Cierra Hall collected her third double-double of the season, finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds to help carry top-seeded UC Davis to a 61-54 victory over No. 9 Cal State Fullerton in the opening quarterfinal match-up of the Air Force Reserve Big West Women’s Basketball Championships, presented by The Hawaiian Islands, on Wednesday morning at Michelob Ultra Arena at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas.
The Aggies improved to 11-2 with the win and advance to Friday’s semifinal round where they will take on either No. 4 Cal State Bakersfield or No. 5 Hawaii at noon. Led by 25 points and 16 rebounds from Joy Krupa, the Titans ended their season at 4-18 overall.
With the win, UC Davis has now clinched a berth in the Big West tournament semifinals for the seventh consecutive season and the 10th time in 14 seasons overall (2008, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021). The Aggies have won six of their previous seven semifinal games and have posted a 6-2 record in the semifinal round overall, advancing to the championship games three times in the previous four attempts.
Voted the Big West Player of the Year earlier in the week, Hall’s 20 points marked her fourth 20-point performance of the season and her third double-double of the year, finishing 5-for-9 from the floor with a pair of three-pointers and 8-of-10 from the line in 37 minutes. Her 10 rebounds were the most since she finished with 10 in the series opener with UC San Diego at the end of January.
Hall finished as the lone UC Davis player in double figures as junior Kayla Konrad and sophomore Evanne Turner finished with nine apiece. Konrad added five rebounds and four assists, while junior Sage Stobbart scored eight points, grabbed six rebounds, and blocked three more shots — the latter moving her into sole possession of seventh place on the school’s all-time list with 90. She stands only six away of Staci Stevens for sixth.
The Aggies trailed for a grand total of 65 seconds in the contest after Fullerton scored the opening basket, eventually leading by as many as 16 points and holding a 32-16 advantage at the break thanks, in large part, to a 13-0 run midway through the first quarter and a 7-0 burst at the end of the second. UC Davis’ defense was stellar, limiting Fullerton to just 17 percent from the field for the half and 2-of-16 from beyond the arc.
However, the contest was far from over as the Titans continued to chip away and rallied to make it a two possession game in the fourth. Cal State Fullerton out-scored UC Davis, 18-9, in the third quarter, as the Aggies managed just three field goals and a pair of free throws in the period, using a 7-0 run of its own to bring the deficit back to single digits with 10 minutes to play.
The Titans were within five points on three occasions in the first half of the final period, eventually getting the gap down to just four points following a three-pointer by Kathryn Neff with 3:55 to play. UC Davis kept Fullerton at bay down the stretch by converting 9-of-12 from the free throw line to maintain its advantage to the final buzzer.
Overall, the Aggies hit 40 percent from the field and beyond the arc while holding the Titans to just 31 percent on 27 more shot attempts— the sixth time in the last seven games that the UC Davis defense had held an opponent to under 32 percent from the floor in a game.
Davis men begin Big West tourney Thursday
When it paused competition to remain compliant with Yolo County Public Health orders, UC Davis men’s basketball was unsure when, or if it would return to action, let alone compete in a postseason tournament. Following their seven-week hiatus, the Aggies competed in their first game and continued their schedule as originally planned since zero positive COVID tests were recorded within the program since student-athletes, coaches and staff returned to campus last fall.
UC Davis now enters this week’s Big West tournament as one of the hottest teams in the league after winning six of its last seven games, and will head to the Mandalay Bay for Thursday’s 2 p.m. quarterfinal matchup vs. CSU Bakersfield off an impressive 74-66 victory vs. Hawai’i in last Saturday’s series finale.
To watch the game visit https://es.pn/3rG8M80. There is no charge with a cable subscription.
Trent Rush, Richie Schueler and Courtney Sweet will call the action inside the Michelob ARENA for ESPN3’s video stream, Aggie basketball fans can also listen to Scott Marsh’s broadcast on Sports 1140 AM. Links for live stats and in-game Twitter updates are available by visiting UC Davis Men’s Basketball Gameday Central.
As the event’s No. 4 seed, the Aggies will face No. 5 seed CSU Bakersfield for the inaugural time as Big West foes and the first head-to-head matchup since Dec. 6, 2008. Due to its safety-related pause, UC Davis is the only Big West team the Roadrunners did not face this season in its league-high 25 games played.
Unlike the Aggies who enter this event with momentum after the way they ended the season, Thursday’s quarterfinal is the first game for the Roadrunners since Feb. 27, when they lost their regular season finale at home to CSUN. Including that result, CSU Bakersfield dropped three of their last four games played.
The winner of this quarterfinal will advance to Friday’s 6 p.m. semifinal and battle for a berth in the event’s championship game against the winner of Thursday’s 11 a.m. quarterfinal between Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara.